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The Characters of Benedick and Claudio in “Much Ado About Nothing” Essay Sample

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The Characters of Benedick and Claudio in “Much Ado About Nothing” Essay Sample

The play, “Much Ado About Nothing” was written by William Shakespeare about two couples being married, first of which are Claudio and Hero, and the second are Benedick and Beatrice.

A summarization of the play begins with Claudio and Benedick return home from a war. Claudio asks to marry Hero, but is asked to wait a week upon doing so. In this week, Benedick gets deceived that Beatrice actually loves her, while the same trick is placed upon Beatrice, but in reversal. Don John then decides to make Hero appear to entertain men and stop the marriage between Hero and Claudio. He frames Hero with the help of Borachio, making Claudio believe that Hero is the one entertaining the man. Claudio is then ruthless in the wedding ceremony, bringing to light what he has found out. Hero then pretends to die of shame due to the public humiliation. Benedick now shows some maturity in calming Beatrice down and assessing the situation. The guard then capture Don John’s henchmen and they tell them everything that’s happened, and that Don John was behind it all. The guard then tells Don Pedro of this and Claudio then grieves over Hero, who he believes to be dead. Claudio then agrees to Leonato’s punishment of marrying Hero’s cousin, which turns out to be Hero herself. They then marry and Beatrice and Benedick then discover that they have been tricked, but admit to their love for each other and also get married.

“BENEDICK: Do not you love me?

BEATRICE: Why, no; no more than reason.

BENEDICK: Why, then your uncle and the prince and Claudio have been deceived; they swore you did.

BEATRICE: Do not you love me?

BENEDICK: Troth, no; no more than reason.

BEATRICE: Why, then my cousin Margaret and Ursula are much deceived; for they did swear you did.

BENEDICK: They swore that you were almost sick for me.

BEATRICE: They swore that you were well-nigh dead for me.

BENEDICK: ‘Tis no such matter. Then you do not love me?

BEATRICE: No, truly, but in friendly recompense.”

Above, is an extract from a transcript between Benedick and Beatrice, questioning the origin of their love. During this scene, they both find out that they have been tricked into loving each other, and tell each other they are nothing more than friends.

“CLAUDIO: And I’ll be sworn upon’t that he loves her; for here’s a paper written in his hand, a halting sonnet of his own pure brain, fashion’d to Beatrice.

HERO: And here’s another Writ in my cousin’s hand, stolen from her pocket, containing her affection unto Benedick.”

Above is another extract, from the same transcript between Benedick and Beatrice, when Claudio and Hero intervene, showing their true affection towards each other, showing that their “their own hands against their hearts”, proving their true affection towards each other.

Claudio, who marries Hero, is regarded as a young noble soldier who is proud of his honour. Claudio first meets Hero before he is sent to war in Don Pedro’s army, but when he returns; he shows more affection than ever and decides upon his return that he will marry Hero. This shows his loyalty to Hero, and that he hasn’t changed over the many months that they have been at war, it could also show that he is reserved, shy to state his love for Hero. This is seen through the words “saying I liked her ere I went to wars.” This is the most sensible option as over the time of war, he has had time to reflect on whether he truly loves Hero. By asking Hero to marry him on his return proves this. When he finds out that Hero entertains women, he is quick to judge and is easily lead by Don John into publically embarrassing Hero on their wedding day. This shows just how gullible Claudio is and as he doesn’t think to ask the truthfulness of Don Johns accusations. This also shows that Claudio is na�ve as he trusts Don John without any proof of his accusations.

Claudio shows that he is continuously shy through out the play. The words “then I will break with her and with her father thou shall have her” which are spoken by Don Pedro to Claudio, promising that he would woo Hero in place of Claudio. Claudio is overjoyed about this news and agrees to their deal. This shows that Claudio is very nervous in showing his feelings to Hero, and that he can’t attempt to ask Hero to marry him.

Benedick is the main source of humour in the play and swears that he will remain a “bachelor.” His friends find him funny so like to walk with him “good company.” He is regarded as a noble, brave soldier, even with his public detest of all women, with a negative attitude towards all aspects of romance or love. He is shown to be challenged in the play by Beatrice, who shows similar witty comments and people find it amusing to see them bicker every time they meet.

Claudio changes throughout the play, but starts off as a kind, serious person and seems that nothing can stop him marrying Hero, but then he changes into a ruthless / vicious person in the way he publically humiliates Hero. He is disrespectful to elders some times, especially in the wedding where he disrespects Hero, but learns that not all things that appear to be real are true. Soon afterwards, he shows a great feeling of remorse, from which he learns a life lesson that will remain with him for the rest of his life. This ties in perfectly with the theme of an Elizabethan romantic comedy, as Claudio now fulfils the part of a dramatic mis-understanding in which he learns a life lesson, which is the main theme of this romantic comedy.

Benedick, on the other hand, changes dramatically through the course of the play as he begins as a complete contrast to Claudio, as he describes how he will remain a bachelor, and that love is a sign of weakness, but during the course of the play, he learns that love isn’t a sign of weakness, and finds he’s extremely affectionate towards Beatrice. When Claudio humiliates Hero in his supposed wedding, Benedick has a more mature attitude towards women and wonders how Claudio could do such a thing to a sweet innocent woman like Hero. He remains to show a mature attitude throughout the remainder of the play but is embarrassed to find that he was initially tricked into loving Beatrice, and that he would decide to love her back, but is relieved when the exactly same thing happens to Beatrice. Even though Benedick has matured throughout the play, he is still the main source of humour.

This play is a perfect example of an Elizabethan comedy, as it revolves around two pairs of lovers who encounter a dramatic threat from which could undermine the entire marriage, but it ends in marriage and celebration. The music and dancing play and important role in the play as music signifies celebration and merrymaking and intensifies the romance throughout the play. The deceivery and eavesdropping show an exciting way in which the couples are undermined by lies or one another, and lead to believe things which aren’t true. It is necessary for the main man in the play to undergo a challenge in which he is taught a vital life lesson in which saves his relationship, as he emerges a man of maturity.

My initial impression of Claudio is one of honour and lack of experience, but continuously proving people wrong, earning honour beyond his age. The words “he hath borne himself beyond the promise of his age” show how young he is, yet how highly regarded he is amongst other men. The words ” the figure of a lamb the feats of a lion” shows that even though he’s young, like a lamb, he fought as if he was experienced, like a lion, one of which is courageous and bold. This is created by the effective use of metaphors, and relating them to young and old, inexperienced to experience as this creates a sense of virtue and nobleness. The words “the figure of a lamb feats of a lion” is an effective use of imagery, describing his honour while stating his youth.

My initial impression of Benedick is one of many, specifically that he is a noble, honourable man as he is a good soldier, the messengers’ words also mentions that he is an honourable man. This is shown by the words”good soldier” and “stuffed with all honourable virtues.” This shows just how highly regarded Benedick is, even though his friends regard him as a jester on most occasions. This is created by continuous compliments towards Benedick from the messenger, such as “good service”, “good soldier” and “honourable virtues.” This insinuates that Benedick is this great noble man who is to be highly regarded.

There are many differences between the attitudes of Claudio and Benedick. Claudio is regarded as a romantic, yet serious person as the words “I looked upon her with a soldier eye” and “how fair young Hero is.” This shows how serious Claudio is, but how his judgement gives way to “soft and delicate desires” in which he finds in Hero. The whole paragraph of speech he uses, is an example of assonance, where each of the sentences, in this case, have 10 syllables contained within each, for example “

When you went onward on this ended action,

I looked upon her with a soldier’s eye,

That liked, but had a rougher task in hand

Than to drive liking to the name of love.”

All the above sentences follow the 10 syllables contained within each sentence.

Benedick on the other hand has a negative attitude to women and romance and thinks love is a sign of weakness, the words “for I truly love none” and “I will live a bachelor” shows how Benedick feels towards women at this stage of the play. The only thanks he has to any woman is his mother, and which is; “that a woman conceived me, I thank her.” This suggests that Benedick is only grateful to his mother. This could show permanent detachment from love in his life, as the way in which he speaks is too serious for the matter in hand. This could also show an obnoxious side to Benedick, and reveals an underlying sense of insecurity as he uses many hyperboles within this extract, emphasising the fact that he will never marry, he also lists and repeats many of the things he says in different contexts to show an extra exaggeration of his view towards women.

Benedick is regarded as a jester, and isn’t taken seriously when he says he rather travel to the ends of the earth than to talk to Beatrice. “…an embassage to the pigmies, rather than hold three words’ conference with this harpy. You have no employment for me?”

“None, but to desire your good company”

Don Pedro finds this highly amusing and refuses Benedicks query of employment with a simple “desire” for Benedicks’ “good company”, even though Benedick pleads that he rather travel to the ends of the earth than to speak to Beatrice, which is an example of a hyperbole. The word “harpy” suggests Beatrice as an unapproachable character, relating her to a vulture like status, as if she preys upon Benedick for her entertainment.

Claudio is regarded in a totally different way than Benedick, as he is regarded as a serious romantic character, the exact opposite of what Benedick declares himself to be. Claudio also shows a sensitive and shyness as he is nervous about his feelings for Hero. Claudio maintains this sense of shyness throughout the play, as he maintains silence until it is only himself and Don John. He isn’t engaged in conversation with anybody at the time which shows he is nervous at attempting conversation by himself. The words “honour on a young Florentine called Claudio”, shows how people, such as Hero’s father regards Claudio. He is also regarded as a gullible person, by Don John as he persistently leads Claudio into thinking that Don Pedro is wooing Hero for himself. For example, “thus answer I in name of Benedick, but hear these ill news with the ears of Claudio, ’tis certain so; the prince woos for himself.” This leads Claudio to believe that the prince is going against his deal, which he made with him earlier. It is only until he confronts Don Pedro, that he realises he was doing what they agreed upon all the time. Don John also says “friendship is constant in all other things save in the office and affairs of love.” This leads Claudio to believe that friends will lie to each other as long as they are in love and someone’s in the way.

Benedick has a very cynical attitude towards all women, especially Beatrice. He has a negative view on which he bases all women on. For example, “…he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair, yet I am well; another is wise, yet I am well, another virtuous, yet I am well. But till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace.” This shows how he describes the chances of him getting married are slim, and him to find a woman which is fair, wise and virtuous all at once, is even slimmer. This demonstrates his arrogance, as he thinks that he is superior to all women, including Beatrice.

He begins the play by saying “surely I am to be loved of all women apart from you.” This shows how all women regard Benedick as a noble and handsome man, but Beatrice’s wit sees through Benedicks nobleness and honour and finds him a man to argue and fight. This gives Benedick a negative view to all women, but all, decides that Beatrice is not someone to be taken lightly, as she has equal wit to him.

Benedick finds Beatrice highly insultive, and finds that her words hurt, unlike other people’s remarks. This shown through the words “She speaks poniards, and every word stabs. If her breath were as terrible as her terminations, there were no living near her; she would infect the North Star.” This shows just how much Benedick finds Beatrice’s words to hurt as if her words were like her breath, there wouldn’t be anyone around alive in which she could torment. This shows Benedicks sensitive side as he talks a great deal about how painful her words are to him and that her words are like “daggers”. Benedick doesn’t reveal himself to be sensitive in the play apart from scenes like this, where he is hurt or feels guilty for someone else. This is shown in the false marriage, where Claudio insults Hero publically. Instead of agreeing with Claudio’s words, he takes the side of the women, wondering how he could do this to Hero. For example, ” I will deal in this as secretly and justly as your soul should with your body.” This shows just how emotionally tied Benedick is to Hero as he finds the humiliation unbearable, for such a sweet and innocent woman.

He then lets his sensitive side be replaced with anger as he confronts Claudio and challenges Claudio to a fight “you are a villain – I jest not, I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right or I will protest your cowardice.” This shows just how angry Benedick is towards Claudio and says that if he doesn’t accept his duel, he will tell of his cowardice. He then defends Hero’s morals, something he would definitely have not done if he had not matured by now. The words “you hath killed a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you.” This shows just how sensitive Benedick is, as he is defending Hero as if she was his own flesh and blood.

Benedick’s attitude has changed drastically throughout the play as at the beginning, he wouldn’t have thought twice of insulting any woman he pleased. Now he is defending their morals, showing a far greater sensitive side to him that he wouldn’t have dared to have shown at the beginning of the play. He says “man is a giddy thing.” This shows that he has found men to be inconsistent and prone to change as he is now sensitive towards women and that it is only human nature to change certain views, especially ones which define a group of people because of their actions as a whole, and not taking the time to know them before judging them. The words “but till all graces be in one woman, one woman shall not come in my grace”, this shows that he’s still got a negative attitude towards women.

Claudio shows to have a sensitive, romantic view towards women, the opposite of Benedick’s views towards women. The words “war thoughts have left their places vacant, in their rooms come thronging soft and delicate desires.” This shows his view towards love. He doesn’t find love a sign of weakness, but as something to fill in the gap of his fighting, wanting love instead of war. Now that he has returned from war his feelings have become ever stronger, this is shown as he asks to marry Hero upon his return. This shows how his attitude is so different than Benedick’s. he finds that women are something in which he can embrace, and not something of which he should turn away and slander.

Claudio shows no embarrassment in declaring his love for Hero. He does this by saying “Silence is the perfect herald of joy; I were but little happy, if I could say how much. Lady, as you are mine, I am yours: I give away myself for you and dote upon the exchange.” This shows how easily Claudio finds to talk of love, and about his upcoming marriage, while Benedick wouldn’t dare say such things, especially in the company of other people.

At the beginning of the play he speaks very highly of women, and how fair they are. For example “..how fair young Hero is,” This shows how he finds women attractive, unlike Benedick, and “saying I liked ere I went to wars” shows that he’s been interested in “fair young Hero” for a long time. This is totally against what Benedick would want, as he is very specific about the woman he wishes to marry, but states that he will remain a “bachelor” and will not be married.

Claudio’s attitude to women changes dramatically through the play. When he learns of Hero’s pastimes, he is instantly filled with rage, and becomes a much more vulgar person. For example “rotten orange”, “she knows the heat of a luxurious bed”, Her blush is guiltiness not modesty” and “pampered animal that rages in savage sensuality.” This shows the extent of which he is willing to desecrate Hero, when all along she has been framed by Don John. The words “rotten orange” shows how he describes Hero to appear sweet and fair, yet on the inside, she is rotten, as she entertains men. It also describes how she appears fair and innocent, yet remains a prostitute at heart It uses imagery to further push it’s meaning towards the viewer.

The words “She knows the heat of a luxurious bed” show how me describes Hero as a prostitute as “heat” and “luxurious bed” emphasise the fact. “Pampered animal that rages in savage sensuality”, shows just how low he regards Hero now, as he believes she is a common prostitute. He relates Hero to the status of a savage animal, as if she isn’t even human for the crime she has committed. The audience to the play would find this a devastating outcome, as they have seen Don John plot this, and it has worked to great effect. Most, nearly all would show a sense of sympathy towards Hero as she has been falsely accused of terrible deeds. This would make Hero think this isn’t reality, as Claudio has sworn his love for her, for them to get married, yet he slanders her at the wedding ceremony. This also shows how Claudio is, as he doesn’t question the authenticity of Don John’s accusations.

Claudio shows a great amount of honour at the beginning of the play as he is spoken of by Leonato as “much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio”, during the play, he is still regarded as an honourable noble man, until he desecrates Hero in their wedding. In the wedding he is regarded by most as a vulgar and horrible man, yet Don John has tricked him and makes Claudio appear extremely gullible, listening to his advice. It is only until after Claudio finds out the cruel scheme in which Don John has created, he is sympathising to Leonato and begs him to bear his judgement. The words “I know not hw to pray your patience, yet I must speak. Choose your revenge yourself; impose me to what penance your invention can lay upon my sin – yet sinned I not but in mistaking” shows just how sorry he feels for Leonato, after he publically humiliated them both in the wedding ceremony. He asks for the worst punishment Leonato can lay upon him as he finds what he’s done to Hero unacceptable. If he had a stronger friendship with Hero, he wouldn’t have waited until the wedding day to question her actions. Instead he jumped to conclusions about Hero and the activities she does, this shows how easily Don John lures Claudio into believing Hero entertains men as Don John realises early in the play, that Claudio’s weakness is his honour, and that Claudio will do anything to uphold it.

Benedick, on the other hand, shows a great deal of respect towards others, (except women) throughout the play, and as he matures near the end he also finds women respectful and trustworthy, especially in the wedding aftermath. This can be seen through the words “is very much into the Prince and Claudio, yet, by mine honour, I will deal in this as secretly and justly as your soul should with your body.” This shows how he swears to avenge Hero by swearing it with his honour. This shows that his honour counts as a very high token of promise. Unlike Claudio, Benedick’s word is more reliable as Claudio wanted to marry Hero upon his return, but his judgement was easily swayed as his honour was put at risk by Don John, yet when Benedick makes a promise, like he does now, he sticks to it, instead of altering his judgement further on in the play.

Benedick changes drastically throughout the play as he initially regards women and love as a sign of weakness, but as the play draws to an end the play finishes with Benedick and Beatrice getting married. This is shown through the words “but it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none.” This is an extract from a conversation with Beatrice, the woman he ends up marrying. It shows exactly how he feels towards women at this point of the play and how he says he “truly love none”, which is referring to the fact that he doesn’t love any women, not just Beatrice. Benedick learns throughout the play, that women aren’t a sign a sign of weakness, and that they should be treated just as equally as men. This ties in perfectly into the play, as when he says “I truly love none” makes him appear like a jester, as he is joking about love in such a way that he makes the audience feel almost part of the play, disagreeing with Benedick’s point of view on women., this makes the audience feel more involved, and the fact that Benedick detests women so much, ties in the comical side of the romantic comedy.

Claudio, on the other hand, has a general honourable and noble approach to people, not finding women are something to be avoided like Benedick, he asked Hero to marry her. Yet during the play when he finds out that Hero entertains men, he is compelled to show a vulgar side to him “rotten orange” and “savage animals” are two of the few things he calls Hero while he demonstrates his rage. eventually, once he’s found out that he has been tricked he is confronted by Leonato and is told that: “since you could not be my son in law, be yet my nephew.” This shows how Leonato accepts Claudio’s apology, and that his punishment is to marry Hero’s cousin, which turns out to be Hero herself once Claudio has agreed to his punishment. This shows how sensitive and sad Claudio is as he realises that his true love has been dashed away by Don Pedros’ “bastard brother.” In turn, he agrees instantly to Leonato’s punishment, without thinking twice of questioning the appearance of Hero’s cousin, and whether he would actually love her, just because Leonato told him to marry her. By this, Claudio learns that he shouldn’t be so quick to judge, and that not all things appear what they really are. He is ecstatic to find that his mistake wasn’t permanent and married Hero.

In the play “Much Ado About Nothing”, there is a lot of lies and deceit corrupting both of the young couples and interfering with their love. I found that many things aren’t what they appear to be in the fact that Claudio slanders Hero on false accusations, and that Don John shouldn’t be trusted as he says “the prince woos for himself” even though Don Pedro and Claudio had agreed upon it themselves earlier. I find that in the play Claudio and Benedick are two extremely different characters at the beginning of the play, as Claudio is regarded as a more serious, romantic figure, while Benedick is more of a “jester”. During the course of the play, Benedick alters to become more serious and romantic himself, even though he has sworn against it. I find that as the situation has become more serious, Benedick has matured and doesn’t slander women for who they are, but more for what they do. Even though Benedick has matured, he is still the main source of the humour in the play. When Don John flees to Messina, he leaves a trail of destruction behind him. His fleeing also shows him as a coward, trying to avoid the chaos he has created. It is only until he is captured and re-confronted with Benedick, he realises the seriousness of the situation he has created.

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